Student scribe hits big payday

NEW YORK — Josh Schwartz, a 21-year-old USC junior, has achieved Big Man on Campus status. His script “Providence,” a coming-of-age love story, was purchased by TriStar for $350,000 against $700,000, with the studio giving Schwartz a blind second-script commitment worth $200,000 against $400,000.

“It’s a little bit surreal,” said Schwartz, prexy of fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha. He wrote the script as a soph and submitted it for USC’s Jack Nicholson Screenwriting Scholarship Award.

He won the $5,000 prize, but had it withdrawn later because he wasn’t a junior — a requirement of the award. Now, he’s guaranteed a $550,000 payday.

Producer-manager Warren Zide and associate J.C. Spink read the script on Nov. 15, signed Schwartz Nov. 17 and hooked TriStar’s Chris Lee and Walter Hamada by Nov. 20, with Zide-Perry Films producing.

“I feel like I basically sold a homework assignment, and it all happened so quickly, my biggest fear was making classes and doing laundry so I’d have clean clothes for my big meeting.”

He’ll write the blind commitment “as my summer job, which beats working at the Coffee Bean.” And he’ll try to graduate, though he allows it’s “hard to stay motivated because this is the reason you go to film school.”

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